From: email@example.com (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Australian Hands Off PNG!
Date: 3 Apr 1997 23:03:50 GMT
Australian Hands Off PNG!
Editorial from the Militant
Vol. 61, no. 14 (7 April 1997)
"Send Aussie Troops Now!" was the blaring headline on
one Sydney tabloid March 23, beating the war drums for
intervention in Papua New Guinea in response to a reported
request by PNG prime minister Julius Chan for Australian
action to prop up his increasingly isolated government.
The Chan regime's crisis - the sharpest since Papua New
Guinea won independence in 1975 - is the cumulative result
of the failure of the nine-year war against the people of
Bougainville, and the growing social catastrophe at home,
fueled by world capitalism's depression conditions. Not
only did PNG lose 40 percent of its annual export earnings
with the closure of the Panguna mine in Bougainville, but
growing numbers of body bags began coming back from the
war. This developed alongside swelling numbers of
unemployed, rampant government corruption, and austerity
demands imposed by Canberra and the imperialist banks.
Those protesting Chan's mercenaries sensed that their
success on Bougainville would lead to the hired thugs
staying on to use those methods to rub out opposition at
home in PNG.
This emergency has Canberra deeply alarmed - not about
"democracy," but about stability for its exploitation of
PNG's patrimony. With characteristic imperial arrogance,
Australia's prime minister John Howard and opposition
Labour Party head Kim Beazley, whose party formulated the
response to the Bougainville independence fight from the
start, expect their warnings, threats, and orders to PNG, a
sovereign nation, to be heeded. Canberra supplies over
$A320 million (US$250 million) in annual "aid" and the New
Zealand government some $NZ5.9 million (US$4.1 million),
which the imperialists think also entitles them to
interfere in PNG affairs.
Howard proclaimed Chan's mercenaries "sordid," hoping to
divert attention from two facts: that Canberra sent
helicopters to Bougainville, which were converted into
gunships and piloted by Australian and New Zealand
"civilian" pilots throughout the war, and that mustering
Australian troops to intervene in PNG's affairs today is
itself a mercenary act on behalf of Australian big
From the turn of the century Australian colonialism grew
rich from trade in cash crops grown with superexploited
Papuan and New Guinean labor. After the conflict with rival
Japanese imperialism over PNG in World War II was settled,
Australian imperialism also began plundering the minerals
and oil that are the patrimony of the Papua New Guinean
Bourgeois commentators argue that the current crisis
shows that the people of PNG are not capable of governing
themselves. But the exploited producers have never had that
opportunity - until now. Instead, the newly emerging
capitalist class has dominated post-independence political
life. Above all, the events since March 17 demonstrate that
fellow producers are now engaging in politics in the only
meaningful sense: in massive numbers in the streets.
Workers and farmers, especially in Australia and New
Zealand, who themselves are coming into increasing conflict
with the same bosses that exploit PNG, have every reason to
oppose any and all forms of intervention into the affairs
of PNG and Bougainville.
The international labor movement should demand:
Australia, New Zealand hands off PNG and Bougainville!
No aid to the PNG government! Cancel PNG's foreign debt!
Independence for Bougainville! No imperialist
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